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President Obama Speaks on Manufacturing and the Economy in Cleveland, Ohio, 11/14/13

The President:

“But we rolled up our sleeves, we made some tough choices. We rescued and retooled the American auto industry; it saved more than a million jobs. We bet on American ingenuity and American workers. (Applause.) And assembly lines started humming again, and automakers started to make cars again. And just a few months after this plant shut down, your plant manager got the call: Fire those furnaces back up, get those workers back on the job. And over the last four years, you’ve made yourselves one of the most productive steel mills not just in America, but in the world. In the world. (Applause.) ….

So we invested in new American technologies to reverse our addiction to foreign oil, double wind power, double solar power, produce more oil, produce more natural gas, and do it all in a way that is actually bringing down some of our pollution, making our entire economy more energy-efficient. Today, we generate more renewable energy than ever. We produce more natural gas than anybody in the world. Just yesterday, we learned that for the first time since 1995, the United States of America produces more of our own oil here at home than we buy from other countries. First time since 1995. (Applause.) And that’s a big deal. That’s what America has done these past five years.

And that is a huge competitive advantage for us. Part of the reason companies now want to move — we were just talking about it — this plant, if it’s located in Germany, energy costs are double, maybe triple; same in Japan. So this gives us a big edge. But this is also important: We reached the milestone not just because we’re producing more energy, but also we’re wasting less energy. And this plant is a good example of it. We set new fuel standards that double the distance our cars and trucks go on a gallon of gas by the middle of the next decade. That saves the average driver, everybody here, more than $8,000 at the pump over the life of a new car. You like that? (Applause.) We launched initiatives to put people to work upgrading our homes, and our businesses, and our factories so we’re wasting less energy. All that saves businesses money on their energy bills. Your plant is one of the hundreds to answer that call. And if you’re saving money on energy costs, that means you can invest in equipment, invest in workers, hire more people, produce more products.

And here’s another thing: Between more clean energy, less wasted energy, the carbon pollution that’s helping to warm the planet, that actually starts going down. And that’s good news for anybody who cares about leaving a planet to our kids that is as beautiful as the one we got from our parents and our grandparents. (Applause.) So it’s a win-win. Our economy keeps growing, creating new jobs, which means that strengthening our energy security and increasing energy efficiency doesn’t have to be a choice between the environment and the economy — we can do both.

….And we’ve tackled a broken health care system. Obviously, we’re not done yet. (Applause.) ….But just keep in mind that if businesses’ health care costs are growing at about one-third the rate that they were a decade ago, that makes America a more affordable place to do business, and it also means that the investors here, if they’re putting less money into health care costs, they can put more money in terms of hiring more workers and making sure that they’re getting good pay….

But I didn’t run for President to go back to where we were. I want us to go forward. I want us to go towards the future. (Applause.) I want us to get us to where we need to be. I want to solve problems, not just put them off. I want to solve problems. And we’ve got to do more to create more good, middle-class jobs like the ones folks have here.

That means we’ve got to do everything we can to prepare our children and our workers for the competition that they’re going to face. We should be doing everything we can to help put some sort of advanced education within reach for more young people….

Another thing we should be working on: Fixing a broken immigration system. (Applause.) When you think about this whole region, a lot of folks forget, but almost everybody who worked in that plant 100 years ago came from someplace else. And so we’ve got now a new generation of hopeful, striving immigrants; we’ve got to make sure that they come legally and that we do what we need to secure our borders, but we’ve also got to make sure that we’re providing them opportunity just like your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents received when they arrived at this plant. And that’s important. (Applause.) And, by the way, it will help our economy grow because then they’re paying taxes and helping to invest and build here in America.

We should do everything we can to revitalize American manufacturing. Manufacturing is — that’s the hub of our economy. When our manufacturing base is strong, the entire economy is strong. A lot of service jobs depend on servicing manufacturing jobs. And, typically, manufacturing jobs pay a little bit better. So that’s been a path, a ticket to the middle class. So when we make steel and cars, make them here in America, that helps. Like I said, the work may be hard but it gives you enough money to buy a home and raise a kid, retire and send your kids to school.

And those kinds of jobs also tell us something else. It’s not just how much you get in your paycheck, it’s also a sense of, “I’m making something and I’m helping to build this country.” It helps establish a sense of — that we’re invested in this country. (Applause.) It tells us what we’re worth as a community…

And let me make one last point. We have to do everything we can to make sure every American has access to quality, affordable health care, period. (Applause.) … But we’re not going to go back to the old system, because the old system was broken. And every year, thousands of Americans would get dropped from coverage or denied their medical history or exposed to financial ruin. You guys are lucky that you work at a company with a strong union that gives you good health benefits.

(Applause.) But you know friends and family members who don’t have it, and you know what it’s like when they get sick. You know how scary it is for them when they get sick. Or some of them have health insurance — they think they do — and they get sick, and suddenly the insurance company says, oh, I’m sorry, you owe $50,000. That’s not covered. Or they jack up your premium so you can’t afford it because you had some sort of preexisting condition. That happens every day.

So we’re not going to let that happen. We’re not going to let folks who pay their premiums on time get jerked around. And we’re not going to walk away from the 40 million Americans without health insurance. (Applause.) We are not going to gut this law. We will fix what needs to be fixed, but we’re going to make the Affordable Care Act work. And those who say they’re opposed to it and can’t offer a solution, we’ll push back. (Applause.)

I got to give your Governor a little bit of credit. John Kasich, along with a lot of state legislators who are here today, they expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. And think about that. Just that one step means as many as 275,000 Ohioans are going to have health insurance. And it doesn’t depend on a website. That’s already happening because of the Affordable Care Act. (Applause.)

And I think it’s fair to say that the Governor didn’t do it because he just loves me so much. (Laughter.) We don’t agree on much, but he saw, well, this makes sense — why wouldn’t we do this? Why wouldn’t we make sure that hundreds of thousands of people right here in Ohio have some security? It was the right thing to do. And, by the way, if every Republican governor did what Kasich did here rather than play politics about it, you’d have another 5.4 million Americans who could get access to health care next year, regardless of what happens with the website. That’s their decision not to do it. And it’s the wrong decision. They’ve got to go ahead and sign folks up.

So the bottom line is sometimes we just have to set aside the politics and focus on what’s good for people…”

Complete text: http://1.usa.gov/HTDgNz

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